How many hours do you spend preparing every detail of every lesson? Many days I would rather not know because I think about what I could do with that time. Then again, I love what I do. It can be so hard when you are so excited and optimistic about a lesson and right from the start, students are zoned out. Days like this make me wonder, do they just not know how awesome & amazing this lesson will be?! Maybe the problem is that I’m not grabbing their attention when the actual lesson begins. How do I “hook” the lesson? What can “hook” their attention and excite them for the material? Here are some do’s and don’ts:
If you are using a powerpoint, website, or any other multimedia, have your first screen/page be relevant to the day’s topic and vibrant with colors. Students are not going to give a second look to a white screen with black letters on it. So use color, diagrams, pictures (real or animated) to give them a glance at the day’s material.
Tell students about each and every lesson what to expect for the day. If you start with a short lecture, they will know that it will soon lead to an activity. If you end class with a quiz, they will be more likely to pay attention. This will also help with transitions and behavior. You can find more ideas with the article “5 Keys to a Smooth Transition”.
It is important to hook the lesson by doing a quick reminder of the previous day’s lesson. If you want your students hooked on a lesson they need to see how everything is tied together. This can be as simple as a quick question. The visual that was mentioned earlier can be a timeline and diagram. I love to circle on these visuals – circle yesterday’s topic and then I circle the current day’s lesson.
If you have older students and have to present the objectives and standards, do so quickly. Do NOT read them word for word, offer a quick summary. Put them at least in terms that students can understand and relate to. Always remember KISS – keep it simple stupid.
Excitement & energy
This is the easiest, but also the most difficult at times. If you are not excited and energetic about the lesson from the beginning, how will your students be? This can be the most effective way to hook your students’ attention, but on those long days it can be the hardest. If your caffeine has worn off or it has been an exhausting day, being happy and energetic is a true struggle. Give it your all for two minutes to hook the students, then re-energize during independent or group work.
Every lesson can be more effective when your students pay attention and are excited to learn the material. This can be difficult at times, but hooking their interest in the first minute can make a large difference.